Motivation And Physiology Influence Distance Perception Case Assignment
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Motivation And Physiology Influence Distance Perception Case Assignment
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Visual perception and regulatory conflict: Motivation and physiology influence distance perception.
Resumo: Regulatory conflict can emerge when people experience a strong motivation to act on goals but a conflicting inclination to withhold action because physical resources available, or physiological potentials, are low. This study demonstrated that distance perception is biased in ways that theory suggests assists in managing this conflict. Participants estimated the distance to a target location. Individual differences in physiological potential measured via waist-to-hip ratio interacted with manipulated motivational states to predict visual perception. Among people low in physiological potential and likely to experience regulatory conflict, the environment appeared easier to traverse when motivation was strong compared with weak. Among people high in potential and less likely to experience conflict, perception was not predicted by motivational strength. The role of motivated distance perception in self-regulation is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 0096-3445 1939-2222 American Psychological Association xge_142_1_18 10.1037/a0027882 2012-07452-001 Brief Reports Visual Perception and Regulatory Conflict: Motivation and Physiology Influence Distance PerceptionBRIEF REPORTS Isabel Gauthier Editor Shana Cole Emily Balcetis Sam Zhang Department of Psychology, New York University
Sam Zhang conducted this study as part of his undergraduate honors thesis. We wish to thank Tessa West, Ken Fujita, Dan Molden, and Dennis Proffitt for comments on the article.
Emily Balcetis, Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003 email@example.com March 26, 2012 February 2013 142 1 18 22 January 13, 2012 February 25, 2012 February26, 2012 2012 American Psychological Association
Regulatory conflict can emerge when people experience a strong motivation to act on goals but a conflicting inclination to withhold action because physical resources available, or physiological potentials, are low. This study demonstrated that distance perception is biased in ways that theory suggests assists in managing this conflict. Participants estimated the distance to a target location. Individual differences in physiological potential measured via waist-to-hip ratio interacted with manipulated motivational states to predict visual perception. Among people low in physiological potential and likely to experience regulatory conflict, the environment appeared easier to traverse when motivation was strong compared with weak. Among people high in potential and less likely to experience conflict, perception was not predicted by motivational strength. The role of motivated distance perception in self-regulation is discussed.
motivation self-regulation distance perception physiology energy
Successful goal pursuit often requires that people take action in the environment. People with weight loss goals need to act to increase exercise behaviors, and lonely people need to act to restore social relationships. However, poor physical fitness, or low physiological potential, decreases people’s ability and inclination to act, which can thwart the successful pursuit of goals that require action. For example, a majority of Americans indicate they are heavier than their ideal weight (Mendes, 2011b) and want to improve their health (Moore, 2006). However, only half of American adults exercise at least 2 days per week, and 30% do not exercise at all (Mendes, 2011a). Strong motivation can increase the inclination to act on goals, but poor fitness can decrease the inclination to engage in activities that require exertion.
When the motivation to pursue goals that require action is strong but physiological potential is in short supply, people experience a regulatory conflict. We tested one phenomenon that may be involved in assisting people during this conflict. Specifically, this study asked whether visual perceptions of the surrounding environment are biased in ways that promote action when strong motivation calls for action but scarce physical resources call for inaction.
People must simultaneously manage both their motivational and physiological states. When their motivation is strong, people are driven to act in order to initiate and maintain progress toward goals (Bandura, 1989; Carver & Scheier, 1982; Locke & Latham, 1990). However, people must balance the expenditure of energy against the bioenergetic resources available for action, which we refer to as their physiological potential. When physiological potential is low, as is the case among people who are unhealthy and unfit, people are driven to withhold action in order to conserve energy.
Because motivation and physiological state must be simultaneously managed, a regulatory conflict can arise when they suggest opposing behavioral inclinations (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994; Loewenstein, 1996;Thaler, 1991; Trope & Fishbach, 2000). For example, an overweight person who resolves to get in shape by increasing physical activity may experience conflict when simultaneously feeling the inclination to go to the gym and to spend the evening on the couch. A regulatory conflict emerges when a strong psychological motivation demands action but low physiological potential calls for inaction.
The Environment and Goal-Directed Action
What determines whether people will initiate goal-relevant action in the environment when a strong motivation conflicts with low physiological potential? One determinant may be the physical features of the environment itself. People may act on goals and override physiological concerns if the environment they must traverse to pursue their goals is easy to navigate. There exists a relationship between physical properties of the environment and actions that assist goal pursuit. As suggested by classic research, close proximity to goals predicts increased goal-relevant action. For instance, rats experiencing physical depletion ran faster and exerted more effort as the physical proximity to a food reward increased (Brown, 1948; Crespi, 1942; Dollard & Miller, 1950). People, too, survey and use the physical properties of the environment to determine whether action is feasible and warranted in light of available physiological resources (Proffitt, 2006). Aspects of the physical environment influence goal-relevant action. When the environment actually is easier to navigate, goal-directed action intensifies.
If the actual layout of the environment determines whether action is taken, perhaps mere perceptions, or misperceptions, of the environment too are related to action. The present work provides the first empirical test of whether physiological and psychological states of the perceiver interact to bias visual perception of the environment in ways theorized to cue action when perceivers experience a regulatory conflict. We tested whether people perceive distances as shorter, given that proximity cues action, when the strong motivation to act in the service of goal pursuit conflicts with the physiological inclination to withhold action.
Visual Perception and Goal-Directed Action
Emerging evidence suggests internal states of the perceiver influence visual perception. For example, perception is sensitive to physiological potential. Heavier people perceived distances to jump as greater compared with people who weighed less (Lessard, Linkenauger, & Proffitt, 2009). Participants depleted of energy perceived a hill to be steeper than did participants who consumed sugar, which provided a temporary burst of energy (Schnall, Zadra, & Proffitt, 2010). When potential is low, the environment appears more extreme.
Visual perception is also sensitive to psychological motivation. People see the environment in less extreme ways when their motivation is strong and the environment allows for goal pursuit. For instance, a bottle of water appeared closer to thirsty participants motivated to attain it than to participants whose state of thirst was quenched (Balcetis & Dunning, 2010). Two separate lines of research suggest perception is sensitive to physiological resources and psychological motivation. These data have sparked the development of emerging theories that speculate that perception is systematically biased in ways known to encourage or discourage action.
No research to date has explored visual perception during instances of regulatory conflict, when the behavioral inclination to act is discrepant. We tested if, during conflict, visual biases emerge that favor psychological motivation or physiological need. If psychological motivation is favored, the environment should be misperceived as less extreme, because perceived ease of traversing spaces is speculated to encourage action ( Balcetis & Dunning, 2010 ; Dollard & Miller, 1950 ). Conversely, if physiological need is favored, the environment should be misperceived as more extreme, because perceived extremity is speculated to discourage action when energy is scarce ( Proffitt, 2006 ). We predicted that psychological motivation would be favored and perceptual biases would emerge that cue action when motivation is strong, as is the case when goal-directed behaviors are enjoyable (Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2000) and goals are important (Muraven & Slessareva, 2003) even if difficult to pursue (Shah, Brazy, & Jungbluth, 2005). Under these conditions, alternative courses of action interfere with goal pursuit far less (Shah, Friedman, & Kruglanski, 2002). Thus, psychological goals may be prioritized over physiological concerns when motivation is strong.
Overview of Present Study
We tested distance perception when strong motivation to act conflicted with physiological need to conserve energy. We experimentally activated either a strong or a weak motivation to move to a finish line and measured perceptions of distance to it. To assess objective, individual differences in participants’ physiological potential, we measured waist-to-hip ratio, as it is one of the best predictors of fitness and serious health conditions (Pischon, Boeing, & Boeing, 2008; Su et al., 2010).
We predicted that the effect of motivation would differ depending on perceivers’ physiological potential. Situations of regulatory conflict occur for people low in physiological potential. Among these people, we predicted motivational strength would determine perceptual experiences. Specifically, we predicted unfit people who had strong motivation would perceive distances as shorter than would those with weak motivation. Conversely, situations of regulatory conflict would not occur among people high in physiological potential, as people with high physiological potential have the energy needed to traverse the environment regardless of whether they are motivated to do so. Among these people, we predicted that motivational strength would not statistically predict perceptions of distance.
In exchange for $10 or course credit, 78 undergraduates (56% female) completed a study about health. They first read an article, ostensibly from The New York Times, that emphasized that overall health was based not just on weight but on a multitude of factors. Participants then completed a battery of health measures. To assess individual differences in physiological potential, the experimenter measured the circumference of participants’ waist and hips, and we computed a ratio of waist-to-hip measurements.
Participants then completed other measures of actual (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, weight) and spurious (e.g., a “lung capacity” test in which participants hummed for an extended period of time) determinants of health. After completing all but one of the tests in the battery, we provided bogus feedback to manipulate motivational strength (modified from Moskowitz, Gollwitzer, Wasel, & Schaal, 1999). Participants saw a scale ranging from 0 to 100, divided with a line at 50. Participants in the strong motivation condition (n = 39) received a raw score of 42 on the scale, which placed them in the bottom half of the health scale but close to the line that divided the supposedly healthy and unhealthy groups. We expected that participants who received a low score and appeared to be unhealthy would experience stronger motivation to perform well in the last fitness task. Participants in the weak motivation condition (n = 39) received a raw score of 87, which placed them in the top half of the health scale and far above the dividing line. We expected that participants who received a high score would experience weaker motivation to perform well in the last fitness task, since they already appeared to be healthy. As a manipulation check, we asked participants to indicate how satisfied they were with their fitness level and how physically fit they felt at this moment on a scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 10 (extremely).
Although this score was purported to be a reliable measure of health, participants learned that they would complete one final test that might move their score. Participants strapped on ankle weights measured to be 15% of their body weight and stood 16 ft away from a finish line. Participants knew they would high-step to the finish line, and if they did so quickly they could improve their score. They were given a chance to high-step in place to note that the task was moderately difficult but not impossible.
We expected participants in the weak motivation condition who received a high score would believe that their health goals had been mostly satisfied and thus would experience weaker motivation to quickly walk to the finish line. Alternatively, we expected participants in the strong motivation condition who received a low score to believe that their health goals were not yet met but could be attained if they walked quickly to the finish line. Thus, the finish line represented a goal-relevant location and the feedback influenced the strength of the motivation to traverse the space to meet a proximal goal of increasing the health score.
Before they walked to the finish line, participants estimated the distance. On a survey, participants indicated the number of feet and inches they were from the finish line. Participants saw a statement on the survey that indicated the piece of paper was 11 in. tall and should be used as a reference for estimating the distance ( Balcetis & Dunning, 2010 ; Witt, Proffitt, & Epstein, 2004).
Results Manipulation Checks
The feedback manipulation successfully activated fitness concerns. Participants in the strong motivation condition indicated less satisfaction with their fitness level and felt less fit (M = 3.5, SD = 1.8, and M = 5.9, SD = 2.0, respectively) than did participants in the weak motivation condition (M = 8.7, SD = 1.2, and M = 6.9, SD = 1.7, respectively), t(76) = 14.92, p < .001, and t(76) = 2.38, p = .02, respectively.
The ideal waist-to-hip ratio is .7 for women and .85 for men (Henss, 2000). We adjusted participants’ scores to reflect difference scores from gender-specific ideals. We used this gender-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio score in all of our primary analyses. Gender did not moderate any of our primary effects, so we collapsed across gender for all analyses.
To explore how motivation and physiological potential impacted perception, we ran a regression predicting distance estimates. We included as a predictor variable the effects-coded motivational strength variable (–1 = weak motivation, 1 = strong motivation). We also included the gender-adjusted waist-to-hip ratio, after centering this variable to eliminate the possibility of collinearity. We included the interaction term. The overall model was significant, R2 = .14, F(3, 74) = 3.95, p = .01. When all variables were included in the model, the effect of waist-to-hip ratio was not significant (β = .052), t(74) = 0.47, p = .64. The effect of motivational strength was not significant (β = –.18), t(74) = –1.61, p = .11. Importantly, as predicted, the interaction between waist-to-hip ratio and motivational strength was significant (β = –.52), t(74) = –3.06, p = .003.
Because waist-to-hip ratios are continuous, Figure 1 depicts the predicted mean values of distance estimates at relatively high (1 SD above the mean) or low (1 SD below the mean) levels of physiological potential rather than actual group means (see procedures outlined by Aiken & West, 1991). To test our predictions regarding distance perception during times of regulatory conflict, we performed two contrast tests. We tested the effect of motivation condition at +1 SD and then again at –1 SD from the mean physiological potential. These analyses revealed that among people who were relatively lower in physiological potential (i.e., at 1 SD above the mean waist-to-hip ratio, as high ratios indicate being unfit), people in the strong motivation condition estimated the distance was shorter than did people in the weak motivation condition, t(74) = –3.29, p = .002. However, among people who were relatively higher in physiological potential (i.e., at 1 SD below the mean waist-to-hip ratio, as low ratios indicate being fit), people’s distance estimates did not differ between the two motivation conditions,t(74) = 1.08, p = .29.
Perceived distance to the finish line as a function of motivational strength condition and physiological potential as measured by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).
This study demonstrated that perceptions of distance depended on the interactive effect of physiological potential and motivational strength. Among participants low in physiological potential, the environment appeared less extreme when motivation was strong compared with weak. However, among participants high in physiological potential, perceptions of the environment did not depend on motivational strength. These data suggest distance perception was biased in accordance with the prioritization of strong psychological motivation rather than physiological concern when experiencing regulatory conflict.
Forms of Physiological Potential
This research operationalized physiological potential through waist-to-hip ratio. This ratio measures both chronic and current physical resources, as it is stable but also indicative of energy presently available for use. Future research would benefit by exploring the direct and indirect effects of different forms of chronic and current physiological potential. For example, skilled athletes with high chronic potential experience difficulty pursuing goals when temporarily fatigued; they have a higher likelihood of goal failure as measured by poor sports performance, injury, and dropout (Gould, Udry, Tuffey, & Loehr, 1996). While one expects that visual biases will appear in the same manner when isolating chronic and current physiological potential, this is an empirical question future research could explore.
Prioritizing Physiological Needs Over Psychological Goals
In situations of regulatory conflict we described, perception seemed biased in ways that favored psychological goals over physiological concerns. However, there are likely cases in which perceptions are biased in accordance with the prioritization of physiological regulatory needs. This may occur when motivational states are weak, commitment is low, or feelings of efficacy are in short supply. For example, when people lack efficacy, they fail to believe that they possess the ability to meet their own goals (Bandura, 1994). Low self-efficacy often predicts self-regulatory failure. Compared with people high in efficacy, people low in efficacy reduce efforts quickly after failure and are thus less likely to prioritize pursuit of social goals. In these cases, physiological concerns may be prioritized over motivational ones.
In addition, physiological regulatory concerns may trump psychological ones when environmental circumstances suspend goal pursuit. For example, people who think they are in a situation where they can do nothing to manage a health-relevant goal stop engaging in actions related to the pursuit of that health goal (Dawson, Savitsky, & Dunning, 2006). Thus, when the situation suggests that psychological goal pursuit is unfeasible, the goal fails to remain a priority. Future research could explore these and other instances when perceptual biases may favor physiological regulation needs rather than motivational concerns.
Cuing Action and Inaction
While building upon classic (e.g., Dollard & Miller, 1950 ) and new (e.g., Balcetis & Lassiter, 2010; Proffitt, 2006 ) work, the current research is the first to document the specific type of perceptual bias that emerges when psychological and physiological concerns conflict. In so doing, this research adds to a reoccurring question of interest: Is perception of the environment functionally linked to action? The next generation of research on this topic should provide empirical evidence for the link between perceptual bias and physical action. During instances of regulatory conflict, are people actually more likely to take action in the environment when they perceive goal-relevant locations as physically close?
Additionally, if perceived proximity cues action, future research might test whether people’s perceptual experiences serve as markers of goal pursuit. In other words, health professionals might use patients’ perceptual experiences as indicators of the likelihood or risk of self-regulatory failure. It is possible that noting which people see distances as farther relative to other people holding similar fitness levels might allow health professionals to conjecture who is less likely to exercise sufficiently. Further, if perceived proximity that results from a strong motivation encourages action, it may be possible to develop effective intervention strategies targeted at changing perceptual experiences artificially for people who struggle with self-regulatory success.
Action is often a necessary component of goal pursuit, yet engaging in action can prove difficult when physical resources are limited. Although deficiencies in the physical capacity to act in the environment impede goal progress, self-regulatory challenges that arise during times of conflict may be, at least partially, overcome by perceptual biases.
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Perceived distance to the finish line as a function of motivational strength condition and physiological potential as measured by waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).
Assunto: Distance Perception (principal); Motivation (principal); Physiology (principal); Self Regulation (principal); Visual Perception (principal); Body Weight; Physical Fitness; Physical Health; Body Fat
Classificação: 2360: Motivation & Emotion; 2560: Psychophysiology
Idade: Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
População: Human Male Female
Identificador (palavra-chave): distance perception energy motivation physiology self-regulation physical fitness
Metodologia: Empirical Study, Quantitative Study
Título: Visual perception and regulatory conflict: Motivation and physiology influence distance perception.
Autor: Cole, Shana1; Balcetis, Emily1; Zhang, Sam11 Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, US firstname.lastname@example.org
Endereço de e-mail do autor: email@example.com
Indivíduo de contato: Balcetis, Emily, Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, 10003, US, firstname.lastname@example.org
Título da publicação: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
Data de publicação: Feb 2013
Formato coberto: Electronic
Editora: American Psychological Association
País de publicação: United States
Revisado por especialistas: Sim
Tipo de documento: Journal, Journal Article, Peer Reviewed Journal
Número de referências: 31
Histórico de publicações :
Data da aceitação: 26 Fev 2012
Data da revisão: 25 Feb 2012
Data do primeiro envio: 13 Jan 2012
Data de lançamento: 26 Mar 2012 (PsycINFO); 26 Mar 2012 (PsycARTICLES)
Data de correção: 11 Feb 2013 (PsycINFO)
Número de registro: 2012-07452-001
ID PubMed: 22449101
ID do documento ProQuest: 953197965
Copyright: © American Psychological Association 2012
Base de dados: PsycARTICLES
Estilo de referência bibliográfica: APA 6th – American Psychological Association, 6th Edition
Cole, S., Balcetis, E., & Zhang, S. (2013). Visual perception and regulatory conflict: Motivation and physiology influence distance perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(1), 18-22. doi:http://dx.doi.org.vlibdb.vcccd.edu/10.1037/a0027882
Motivation And Physiology Influence Distance Perception Case Assignment
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